The other day I was talking with Qassim about what it's like to be Muslim in New York City right now. He said people in his community are scared, depressed, lying low, feeling alone. We talked about the man on Southwest Airlines who was pulled off the plane because a woman heard him say Inshallah and thought it was a terrorist plot. How when a white Christian commits mass murder, it's about his terrible childhood, his disturbed adolescence, bad influences, and when it a Muslim it's because Muslims are just that way. I let him know that I am clear that US wars and CIA maneuvers create young people filled with desperation and rage and weapons.
"What's your name?" I ask as soon as seat belt is fastened. " Where are you from? What's it like there? How many languages, religions, ethnic groups do you have? How do you think things are going? What do you eat? Who do you miss? What does it smell like? Can you teach me how to say thank you in your language? When we pull over, each of our worlds is bigger, more connected, and we say goodbye warmly, with good wishes. "Mèsi," I say. "Mèsi anpil."